21 March 2019

Academic learning component

The completion of academic learning requirements will provide students with the required legal knowledge and understanding of the law in England and Wales.

Currently, academic requirements must be completed prior to the commencement of vocational training, and can be fulfilled by the completion of either:

  • a qualifying law degree (QLD); or
  • a degree in any other subject, supplemented by:
    • the Common Professional Examination (CPE); or
    • an approved Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course.

The CPE and GDL are graduate courses which non-law graduates may undertake in order to be eligible to apply for the Vocational Component of training.

A QLD, CPE or GDL must meet the requirements of the Joint Statement to be deemed to fulfil academic requirements. Key requirements of the Joint Statement include:

  • legal research skills, the English legal system and another area of legal study;
  • the foundations of legal knowledge; namely:
    • Criminal Law;
    • Equity and Trusts;
    • Law of the European Union*;
    • Obligations 1 (Contract);
    • Obligations 2 (Tort):
    • Property/Land Law; and
    • Public Law (Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights Law)

Qualifying law degrees and non-law degrees must be awarded at a minimum 2:2 UK honours (or equivalent international qualifications as determined by UKNARIC).

Professional qualifications will not be accepted in lieu of the requirements stated above.

Copies of the CPE and GDL Handbooks, and a list of CPE and GDL courses, are available on the Central Applications Board website.

If you have any questions about academic requirements, please email authorisations@barstandardsboard.org.uk.  

 Future Bar Training (FBT) - What's changing?

In order to become a barrister, the requirement to complete the Academic Component of learning will not change. Depending on which pathway is offered by an Authorised Education and Training Organisation (AETO) components may be integrated rather than taken sequentially. See the Becoming a barrister webpage.

Completing a law degree (or having a degree and then completing the CPE or GDL) which covers the seven legal foundation subjects and the skills associated with graduate legal work such as legal research will still be necessary, because becoming a barrister will continue to be a graduate-only profession.

What is changing is the concept of having Qualifying Law Degrees (QLDs) which are jointly approved by the BSB and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This is because the BSB and the SRA are taking divergent approaches to qualification as barristers and solicitors and the previously agreed "Joint Statement" will be ceasing. If you want to become a barrister, as long as your law degree is compliant with the QAA benchmark statement for law, and your law degree or CPE/GDL course covers the legal foundation subjects and the skills associated with graduate legal work such as legal research, then this will continue to be sufficient to meet the requirements of the Academic Component of becoming a barrister. There is more information about this change - and what it means if you want to become either a barrister or a solicitor - available in our Common Protocol on the Academic Stage of training which we have published jointly with the SRA.

Transitional arrangements are in place for those wishing to qualify as a barrister and the current requirements will remain in force for QLD/CPE/GDLs that start in or before the academic year 2018/19 and will last until students on those courses complete their studies, in accordance with the requirements of the Academic Stage Handbook.

If you would like to read more about all the FBT changes in one place,please visit our Future Bar Training webpage.